Gateshead 0 FC Halifax Town 1: Costly error proves decisive as Shaymen win FA Trophy at Wembley

FC Halifax Town crowned themselves winners of the 2023 FA Trophy with a 1-0 win over fellow National League side Gateshead at Wembley.

The Shaymen were good value for the victory but it was a gift from their opponents that proved decisive. Gateshead defender Louis Storey sent a tame pass in the direction of his goalkeeper James Montgomery in the first-half, allowing Jamie Cooke to pounce and break the deadlock.

Gateshead enjoyed plenty of possession early on but there was little progression in their play, inviting Halifax to ramp up the pressure. Whereas the Heed were slow to creep forward, there was no shortage of attacking intent from the Shaymen and Rob Harker and Cooke in particular demonstrated a willingness to drive at defenders.

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A sharp turn from Cooke allowed him to surge into the Gateshead box at pace, but his appeals for a penalty were ignored by referee Darren England. Angelo Cappello emulated Cooke with a similarly incisive dart into the box, but the referee showed a similar disinterest as the Halifax man went down under pressure from Robbie Tinkler.

Image: Rhianna Chadwick/PA WireImage: Rhianna Chadwick/PA Wire
Image: Rhianna Chadwick/PA Wire

As the first-half progressed, Halifax tightened their grip on what had started off as a rather tense and nervy final. Tylor Golden proved to be a thorn in Gateshead’s side down the right flank, unsettling defenders with his direct running. He was unlucky to see his through ball to Harker overrun after he had cut inside from the right and bypassed defenders.

Halifax opportunities increased in frequency as the interval approached and Harvey Gilmour saw a powerful drive defected wide after being teed up by Millenic Alli.

A reward for their pressure eventually came in the form a gift from Gateshead. A sloppy backpass from Storey was rolling towards Montgomery in the Gateshead goal, allowing Cooke to pounce and get in the way of the goalkeeper’s clearance. His block sent the ball into the back of the net, sending Halifax’s travelling supporters into a frenzy and ensuring the Shaymen went into the half-time break with a lead.

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Gateshead appeared to have more purpose after the break, posing a considerably greater threat to Halifax than they did before the break. The ball fell kindly for Greg Olley in the box, but his thunderous volley found the wrong side of the crossbar.

Gateshead’s willingness to play higher up the pitch did leave them vulnerable to counter-attacks and Alli almost capitalised following a mazy solo run he embarked on after picking the ball up in his own half. He made his way into Gateshead’s box but his shot was held by Montgomery.

Jack Hunter came close to doubling Halifax’s lead when he hooked his leg round his marker to meet a cross, but Montgomery reacted swiftly to keep it out. Gateshead rallied late on and Greg Olley came the closest to levelling proceedings, but Halifax held out to survive the onslaught and secure the victory.